The senators also welcomed the move in the House of Representatives to start hearings on proposals to scrap excise taxes on diesel and gasoline, as they vowed to immediately act on such measures if these reach the Senate.
Boy Santos/File
Senators warn Palace on fuel tax: Don’t wait for riots
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang should not wait for poor Filipinos to become agitated if prices of basic commodities continue to soar or remain high with the looming increase in excise tax on fuel, senators said yesterday.

The senators also welcomed the move in the House of Representatives to start hearings on proposals to scrap excise taxes on diesel and gasoline, as they vowed to immediately act on such measures if these reach the Senate.

“I’m confident that once it passes the House, that will also be approved in the Senate. Under the Constitution, when it comes to taxes, such bills must originate from the House,” Sen. Sonny Angara told reporters. Angara is a principal author of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law that mandates next year’s fuel excise tax adjustment.

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, however, said the chamber can already start hearings on the “Bawas Presyo sa Petrolyo” bill and the Senate minority bloc’s Joint Resolution No. 15, which seeks the suspension of the excise tax under the TRAIN law as well as a rollback of the levy on fuel to Dec. 31, 2017 rates.

“Hopefully, the Senate can follow suit and tackle these crucial measures before the end of the year,” said Aquino, one of four senators who voted against the ratification of the TRAIN law.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the economic affairs committee, said it was good the House started its hearings on the matter so it could grill economic managers on why they reversed their previous recommendation to President Duterte to suspend the P2 per liter increase in fuel excise taxes.

When the TRAIN law took effect in January this year, the law imposed a P2.50 per liter excise tax on gasoline and diesel.

The Senate is currently devoting its time to deliberating on the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.

Gatchalian said the government should look at the riots in Paris, France that were partly stoked by the fuel taxes imposed by the French government. The levy has been scrapped.

“I think for me, their (French government’s) move to suspend is a signal that many people in the world – not only us – even in advanced countries are facing difficulties,” the senator said.

“I think we have to be sensitive to the bottom 30 percent poorest of our population because they are the ones most hit,” he said.

He suggested the increase be suspended at least in the first three months of 2019 when inflation shall have further supposedly eased.

He pointed out even if inflation has slowed, prices basically have remained high. – With Mary Grace Padin, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Sheila Crisostomo

EXCISE TAX TAX REFORM FOR ACCELERATION AND INCLUSION LAW
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